When it comes to achieving your law firm goals, few principles are more important than accountability.
Without it, there’s a good chance you’ll get sidetracked, distracted or thrown off course.
“We never set out to fail,” writes leadership writer and speaker Randy H. Nelson. “However, good intentions can get us only so far. Our success depends on our ability to implement what we learn, and that’s where we too often fall short.”
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Accountability = Responsibility
Accountability means you’re committed to transparency, communication and long-term success. It means you have the discipline to stay on task and follow through. It means the buck stops with you.
“A leader’s job is to ensure every member of the team wins, and winning is defined as meeting the organization’s top objectives,” writes Bob Prosen, CEO of the Prosen Center for Business Advancement. “One of the best ways I’ve found to help people win is to establish an accountability-based culture focused on producing results, not activities.”
Here is Prosen’s seven-step formula to create accountability and achieve extraordinary results in your law firm (the quotes are from his blogpost).
Step 1: Establish your top three objectives. “This means the significant few, not the important many. Once identified, objectives must be clear, concise, measurable and obtainable.”
Step 2: Assign each team member objectives. “When combined, they must allow the organization to achieve its top objectives. The sum of the parts must be equal to or greater than the whole.”
Step 3: Ask each team member what he or she needs to win. “To help people win, leaders must remove the roadblocks that stand in the way. Do this by having each team member identify a maximum of three things they need to accomplish each objective. Have them put it in writing.”
Step 4: Agree on what you as leader will do to help. “Meet individually with each team member to clarify the roadblocks and agree on what’s needed to win and who will be responsible for making it happen. In all likelihood, the leader will assume some responsibility. Why? Because you’re responsible to people, not for them. Being responsible to people means helping them get what they need to win.”
Step 5: Follow up. “Each direct report should schedule a 30-minute monthly update using a standard color-coded results report. Results at or above the plan are in green and any area behind plan is in red. Focus the conversation on what was done to achieve green and if the results will remain green for the remainder of the year. When discussing red results, focus on what will be done to achieve green status, when it will be achieved and any help that’s needed.”
Step 6: Share lessons learned. “Hold quarterly meetings with all direct reports present to discuss lessons learned, identify critical roadblocks and make specific offers to help any team member behind plan. Remember, the leader wins when everyone on the team wins.”
Step 7: Reward results. “When objectives are achieved, ensure that rewards are disproportionate and highly visible. Those who achieve the most get rewarded the most– and everyone should know that. It’s just that simple. Ensure that people at the bottom are either improving their performance or being moved out. No one with poor performance gets to remain on the bottom for more than a year without action being taken.”
For a last word, here’s Randy Nelson: “The moral of the story (or blog post) is that a successful company – and a successful life – is contingent upon accountability.”
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